Recently my worlds have begun to overlap. Besides being a custom trip planner, I am a book re-seller. Whenever I acquire a mass of books to put on the market, I end up with a huge pile on my bedside table. One that really lit a fire in me last year was Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable Miracle. I had read her novels years ago and this was the first piece of nonfiction I had picked up. It explains her family’s commitment to spend one year either growing their own food or acquiring it locally or going to fair trade for those items they could not live without like coffee and chocolate. It got me thinking how I could start to adapt the local foods lifestyle and it has opened my eyes to so much about the food we eat.
Back in October Graham and I visited one of West Virginia’s gems, Cafe Cimino and subsequently were invited to join their team at the Cast Iron Skillet Cookoff. As part of that experience I have been asked to write a blog for the Collaborative for 21st Century Appalachia. It is WVFarm2u and tells how even the mountainous state of West Virginia is producing a lot of excellent quality farm products. I am learning so much and two things are very evident:
1-The local food movement is consumer driven. If demanded, it will be delivered by the farms that produce the meats and produce and other value added products, by the markets that offer fresh produce, and by restaurants who want to use fresh, healthy ingredients.
2- Many local farmers do not know where their market it. Sticking to the old style of roadside stands on a country road is not hacking it anymore. Sitting all day in the country seat’s farmer’s market is an irritable amount of down time when there is so much work to be done at the farm. New models have to be considered.
The movement in West Virginia is gaining ground. As I travel, I write in the WVFarm2u blog how other places have come up with new ideas. And there are many, from the urban farming I saw in Atlanta to the model my town of Huntington is using to start a Local Food Hub.
Located on the pedestrian mall in downtown Burlington, Sweetwaters is in a renovated bank building as well as spread outside on the mall. The unseasonably warm weather helped us opt for outdoor seating and it took a while to check out the extensive menu. Not all but many items were locally sourced! This was a lovely, sit down restaurant with affordable prices.
The other place where we enjoyed dinner was down by Lake Champlain. Again we enjoyed the nice weather by eating outside.
An excellent meal and one that was fun and easy on the wallet, with a great view of the sunset as well.
Eating local foods is NOT elitist…but it is SMART because it is fresh food that is healthy and helps the local economy!